Saturday, January 12, 2019

Winter 2019 Initial Rankings

Is it time for rankings? Yes, it's time for rankings.   These are the nine shows I'm pretty much still watching. I have 1-2 more shows to try, but one is a given (Precure) and it will be awhile before I get to Manaria Friends. Stiill we have nine shows to give my feelings on. So we'll start with the short of the season that's in my line up.

Mini Toji (0-1) Rank ??
Toji No Miko was a pretty good series. So this mini series is good for me. It's definitely fun so far. That being said ranking is kind of hard because well the episodes are only three minutes. It's probably best to treat this as unranked or whatever rank i feels like being.

Circlet Princess (1) Rank 08

This might in fact be the weakest show still on my list. While I like some of the moments between the lead, a lot of the episode felt lacking. It also doesn't help some of their methods to advance the plot forward such as how they set up the fight well a bit contrived. The fate of this series depends on how stellar episode 2 is.

W'z (1-2) Rank 07

Handshakers was an experience if nothing else so watching  W'z was a no brainer. Even if it will ultimately bad. Plus at least for now I have two reasons to watch. Sadly the main issue right now is the show is still in the set up phase and you're jus waiting for the characters to open the door already figuratively speaking.  Still I'll probably keep watching because curiosity and some cast members from the past I do want to see again. Such as Chizuru for example.

Pastel Memories (1) Rank 06

The first episode does suffer from character overload and it does feel like they took their time setting things up. Also the art made me take a pause. Still I do see some potential in this and I like some of the battle designs. If the show can be smart about juggling it's cast and episode 2 doesn't drop the ball, this will be a fun watch.

Colorful Pastrale (1) Rank 05

It's nice to have a show about mermaids. Also Canon is beautiful and is my canon favorite so far.  The main thing that keeps this from ranking higher is the first episode while good doesn't really have "impact". I don't just mean impact in terms of explosions, but just in general it feels like I need to spend a bit more time in this world because it can truly move up the ranks. Still it's number 5 of 8/9 shows, so it's already at a decent spot.
Grimms Notes(1) Rank 04

This show has already won me over. I have a thing for Fairy Tale references and there's something about the name Alice. I also like  their choice for first "story" to focus on and how they handled some aspects of it. Plus the battle music is cool. Also there's the whole magical girl and magical boy aspect. If nothing else tha was an interesting way to introduce our lead(s) of the series.

Egao No Daika (1-2) Rank 03

It's good for this show that I'm doing the initial rankings after episode 2. Don't get me wrong, I was already enjoying it after episode 1 and Yuki is a twin tailed princess. However episode 2 just seals the deal. Let's just say there are events and the promise of potential come up episode 3+.  Which better not be wasted. Oh and some scenes in the OP definitely help my motivation.
Bang Dream (1-2) Rank 02

If you're thinking 90% of the reason this is ranked so high is because Ako is our one true darkness then you'd be correct. Ok, there's also the fact I enjoy the musical aspect. Part of the fun is definitely going to be watching the performances of the various units. I expect my enjoyment of the show to fluctuate episode by episode. However if the first two episodes are any indication, I will likely enjoy even the weaker episodes on some level.
Endro (1) Rank 01
My current favorite series of the season. It gives us four wonderful "party members" that already have had plenty of great interactions together. I love them all. However for me the real selling point is Mao. She's so divine. Ok, poor choice of words.  Her dynamic with the group is great. She close to being ideal. Even my least favorite girl would be enough motivation to watch this. Add in more girls that are even better and it's a given that this show was destined to win already. It would have to actively try to be bad to lose.

Over All

This season is already supplying me with enough good series to watch. Even if I were to drop 1-4 more shows, I'd still have least five shows providing me with a good experience this season. And this is before getting into l series such as Aikatsu and Precure.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

One Cour Autumn 2018 Anime (Top Three)

03.Akanesasu Shoujo

This series took a few episodes to truly get going. Once it did however it was a fun ride until the last arc. The last arc where the "handling" of everything including and especially the main character of our story, Asuka was put to test. From the start, Asuka defied conventions of what I like to call the "My Turn To Henshin" genre because well just look at episode 1-3 to see what I mean. The point is the story avoided Asuka being the "heroine" despite being well the heroine. 

Even when the heroine finally became the heroine, the handling of it was amazing. During the final arc of the story, we see Asuka both become the heroine in a unique matter, but also deal with the "season 1 final boss" in a manner while not 100% original is still effective to see. We then of course get an epilogue that while not tying up literally everything, still provides us enough anyway. Plus that final scene was just an amusing way to end things.

02.Tonari no Kyuuketsuki-san

This was a joy to watch for the most part. There were a few times the whole "we'll tease this, but can't let anything actually happen" routine got frustrating. That and let's just say two characters (cough Hinata & Ellie cough) have one thinking "Come on you two, just move on already", I get it some things can't happen until either much later near the end, but that's doesn't change the fact it can be frustrating to deal with such moments.  Despite my complaints we still had a lot of good in this show, way more good than bad.

It was nice to see Sophie develop her relationship with Akari. In general the series has a lot of good relationship. The characters are fun to watch. Also there's Ellie. Ellie is amazing and ok, that's all I'm going to say. Seriously some of the things she gets away with. To a lesser extent there's Yu and Sakuya. I say lesser only because their screen time is limit compared to the main four, but when we do see them, they definitely shine. Especially together.

Finally watching this anime has reminded me that I was reading a few different Vampire/Human romance manga, but of course like with a lot of manga, I keep having to relearn their names and then I find those said manga have no new chapters and then I get sad.
01. Anima Yell

From the start, this series won me over with its intro episode. From Kohane discovering her calling in life to her promise to Hizume. In fact the relationship betwen Kohane and Hizume is part of what sold me on the show. I was even thinking of shipping them at first. That is until Uki made it clear in more ways than one that she's Kohane's wife. That's wife, not mother. Please get it right, people.

Not to mention that once Kana came into the picture, I found someone better for my Hizume shipping purposes. Speaking of those two, episode 10 is another reason this show became my favorite of the seasons. To make a long story short, when they break down that wall, they mean it. Ie they mean to at least try.

Then there's the final two episodes. One thread hanging over the series was the issue of the former team Hizume was part of. The route they go with handling that plot thread is one I can fully support and far better than some routes they could have gone with. . It was an effective cut-off point for the series. Also bribing me with Twins helps too. Seriously Nekoya indeed. Hopefully both of them have good girlfriends. Perhaps among their team?

Autumn had a few disappointing shows and some shows that make me question this time line. However despite those issues the nine shows I mentioned in this and the companion entry as well as the multi-cours shows I'm still watching helped make sure that Autumn 2018 ended up an enjoyable season for anime.

Friday, December 28, 2018

One Cour Autumn 2018 Anime (The Rest)

09. Himote House
The series definitely has quite a few issues, yet there was something about it that kept me watching. Part of it was morbid curiosity, but I think in some ways I legit liked aspects of it. It had a few amusing moments on occasion. Keyword being a few as opposed to a lot. If it had a lot, I might rank this higher. However of the 1 Cour series I finished this season, something has to be last.
08. Merc Storia
While there is an overlapping plot due to the whole "Journey To Remember My Memories", the series is mostly an anthology.  Be it single episode or two episode arcs of varying qualities. Even the "worst" episodes are decent and the "best" episodes can be quite strong. It was a journey worth going on, but here's the thing that keeps it in the bottom tier. When you take into account the whole.

While it was enjoyable to meet and learn about the other characters, I would have liked a bit more focus on Merc and even Yuu.  At the same time I was also hoping to see the people they met be visited again. By that I mean as part of a story arc, not just in a quick ending montage scene.  Long story short, I can't help but feel that Merc Storia needed to be longer to allow for such things to happen.
Back when this started, I was confident it would be in the top three. However even early on it started running into issues that lowered my opinion on it. However even with the issues, I still enjoyed the series enough to finish it and not regret watching it. I will admit a lot of it came be blamed on the fact I was invested in two of the characters. I really liked Fu and Mei quite a bit. Yes even after that stuff happened. Also while the final arc had a lot of stupid in it, I do like the way they ended the episod and the new girl is of interest.
This was overall a very impactful series for me.  The final arc was especially amazing. The Akane and Rikka moments were great. Even Gridman got a few good scenes. Fixer Beam indeed. That being said, I can't deny the series having some issues. I guess the best way to put is this. I like the series more for the second half than the first. The first half isn't  terrible, but it really is a case of "just enough to carry you to the good stuff". That said if you're hating the first half, I doubt the second half will save the show. 

         For the record, my experience with OG Gridman and the localized series that's part of the source for the SSSS in the title is rather limited.  Ie I've seen others talk about them and watched clips, but I never fully watched either series. So my opinion on the series is based on that (limited) perspective. Still based on my experience, I feel the show can be enjoyed even with limited experience of the original series and such.
05.Yagate Kimi ni Naru
When the series started, I wasn't sure what to think of this show. I had some interest in the dynamic, but something about the pacing of the show bothered me. So for awhile I put the show on hold. Eventually I picked it back up and some episodes around the middle showed potential and things were starting to get well good. I will also admit the "problems" with their relationship started to become part of what grew my interest in the series. 

 That said, the series clear desire to play the long game with the story limits the amount of impact a series like this can have with a single cour season. That's not to say the final episode was bad, but I was left feeling like there should have been a bit more to have a stronger cut off point. Like with Merc Storia, part of me wishes this was two cour. Not that I have any idea how much manga this covered or if there is even yet enough material for two cour.
04.Zombieland Saga
This series had one of the best starts, but sadly it almost lost me. The reason being is the next few episodes after starte to feel too routine. Like it was going to be one of those series where they were going to rely on strong start to carry the rest. I was even considering dropping the show permanently after episode 4. However I picked it back up after hearing some good buzz about the episodes passed that point. Mainly five through seven.

Those episodes made me rethink giving up on the series and then came episode eight and nine, both of which were amazing. However what tops everything off is the final episode. An episode that focused on a narrative that I'm sure many can relate to.  We also got quite a few great scenes in it. From Saki Punch to Tae lecture. Tae was especially good this episode. Granted Tae is good in several episodes because she's legendary. That's why.

Everything taking as a whole this ended up being one of my favorite series of the season. However there are still several series above it including the top three "One Cour" series of the season for me. Which will be the subject of their own entry for various reasons. No prizes for guessing what they are.

The Series To Blame For My CG Anime Idol Addiction

For years now, I've been addicted to CG Idols. Which is funny because before the addiction happened my feelings on CG ranged from "this is too painful to watch" to "I can live with it" and on rare occasion "this is actually decent".   Plus I viewed CG as one of those things that should only be used for this and not for that. Often times the "that" I didn't want it used for was of course the humans.

LilPri is a series that was one part idol, one part fairy tale references, and had some fun aspects to it. However it also had some issues including the CG. It bothered me quite a bit. Yet despite how much I complained about the CG, I still kept watching it. Did I secretly like the CG? Did the show itself make up for it? Or was this another case of me loving bad shows? Either way I kept up with the show, feeling both positive and negative about the series after finishing the final episode of it.

Then came the series Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream. This was a huge step up. For one, the story was far more interesting. Aira herself is a far more appealing lead than all three of the girls in LilPri put together. You also had the skating angle to the idol stuff. And I am not going to dance around the issue. She's rather pretty.

So even before getting to the CG, the show was already winning favor from me. I can't say the CG in the show has no issues, but at least for me it felt like a step up. I actually found myself interested in seeing how the performances of each episode would play it. And this time it wasn't for train wreck reasons like it had been before.

Then came the real break through. Now what we see here is the CG from the first episode when the show was at its weakest. However thanks to LilPri showing me the low and Pretty Rhythm showing me the potential, I wasn't about to write of Aikatsu just yet. Even more so because Ichigo as a character made a strong first impression on me and I wanted to experience more of her events.
You could even say she knew how to appeal. I'm sorry. As time went on, Aikatsu became one of my favorite long term series to watch.  Not just because of Ichigo, but because of several other idols introduced.  Their types and themes varied, but that was part of the fun. You had cute idols, sexy idols, cool idols, etc. 
Perhaps by far one of my favorite idols is Yurika the vampire themed idol. Her general theme of darkness was appealing. If there was any chance of me dropping Aikatsu, it was destroyed the second Yurika made her presence known. For the record, I like even idols far from the Yurika type such as Otome, but Yurika's type is super effective on me. See also Sumire (S3/S4), Lilie (Stars), Sakuya (Friends), Kaguya (Friends) and pretty much Goth Lolita themed idols with some form of darkness theme in general.
Aikatsu's CG for the most part has been getting better over time. That is one of the reasons why I'm glad to have witnessed the journey through the days of Ichigo, Akari, Yume and now Aine. Aine's performance in episode 34 of Aikatsu Friends was especially good for me. Helps that as a lead Aine is one of my favorites. It also helps that just like with previous series, Aine is surrounded by other idols that provide their own types of appeals to the series.
Aikatsu of course isn't the only series focused on idols that I'm into. A good strong contender for me is the Pretty series. I do miss the Skating days of "Rhythm", but Pri Para was still a strong series thanks to the quality of the characters in it. The Idol Time portion did worry me a bit.  Pri-Chan however has been a fun  ride or maybe I just like Anna too much. Ha, as if that's even possible.
Long Story Short, CG Idols have become something I look forward to. They're not the only reason, but definitely a reason I keep watching Aikatsu and other such series. That being said, they alone would not be enough reason for me to watch. Also just because I enjoy CG Idols doesn't mean I want anime to be 3D CG 24/7. There is still a huge need for traditional 2D Anime. Believe it or not wanting one thing doesn't mean you want the end of another. 
At the very least, I want to continue experiencing what we've been given in shows like Aikatsu. Speaking of part of the appeal is the fact the CG is used mainly for performances. This allows them to stand out as special events. In fact, given part of the premise of the show the performances being the way they are almost makes sense. You know if you ignore all the idols that get a quick 2D "pan shot" because they're not important enough to get an actual performance.
Such as the above for example. Granted other times it's because of the lack of a model or because they just want to save time in an episode. It's a blessing because it gives us 2D moments and can avoid what might have just been repeat performances. It's a curse because it means we can miss out on a unique/rarer performance.

I can't claim all CG is good, I still experience plenty of bad today.   However between legit enjoying some shows in part because of the CG and other shows in spite of the CG, I can no longer drop a show simply because it dares to be 3DCG. I crossed that line years ago. As such I will continue to look forward to some CG, tolerate other CG and of course enjoy the 2D stuff as well.  

The End Arc of Aikatsu Stars Was Amazing.

     Aikatsu Stars is a series not without some weak spots, especially early on in the series. However it also had quite a few good moments and it has perhaps my favorite ending in Aikatsu so far. We'll see if "Friends" can surpass it. For now I'll talk about how Aikatsu Stars won me over and made glad I didn't abandon Yume.
Around Episode 95, Yume is trying to figure out how one beats "Perfect" and we get the idea that "Best" and "Perfect" are two different things. This is a good lesson to remember. No matter how perfect you may (claim to) be in the case of Elza that by itself doesn't mean you're the best. With Hime's words in mind, Yume had a method for challenging Elza. She just had to be better.
Yume then puts on a grand performances and uses the power of being the best to defeat perfect. This was one of my favorite moments in the series and this could have been the end point for some series, but this happens in episode 96 of 100. That's right, we're getting post content or what would be the anime equivalent.
A lot happens during these episodes, such as these two getting together as a unit. Actually these two are one of the best "couples" in the show. I don't care what you might claim, these two got married and aikatsu a lot together. Ok, shipping of these two aside an important thing happens. One that truly ups the ante.
Elza might have been the final boss, but the true final boss, the ultimate foe is Hime. The same Hime that Yume lost to last season. Storywise this is an important moment and since I like the idea of true final bosses, anything I can treat as such is good. Where as Elza and Yume took turns, Hime and Yume perform on stage together. So it also has a different feel to it. A very nice moment that happens in episode 99 of 100. So there's still more to go.
For the epilogue in 100, we have Yume and Laura (Rola) the main couple of the series who are also rivals ready to challenge each other one last time. Since part of the appeal of the series was Yume's relationship with Laura ending it here was good, but also cruel. Since I wanted to see them perform, but it's one of those cases where they probably wanted you to imagine the rest.

From the moment Yume realized how to challenge Elza to the moment she prepared to flirt err challenge Laura once more the series was able to deliver a good ending arc to top everything off. Seriously, Aikatsu Stars might not be perfect, but I'm glad to have spent time with it. Granted trying to convince others to watch 100 episodes is not exactly easy. Such is the curse with long series.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Only One For Asuka is Yu (Akanesasu Shoujo)

The Asuka of a fragment where "marriage" was a theme. Ie getting married at 17 because it was the way of the world. This Asuka sees herself having a "moment" with Nana. At which she decides this will be the new her. She approves of herself being with girls. This was a fun scene, but at the time  other than "Yay Yuri", I didn't really think too much about it. Yet this turned out to be an early hint for a relationship that was finally realized in episode 11. This wasn't the only case of "hints" that back then could also be discarded. See part of the issue here is with the premise .

The premise involves traveling to alternate realities known as fragments. Within each fragment are variants of the characters. Variants effected by the world they live in. Thus there was always the question of what traits also applied to our main characters. So when we see this Asuka  approving of the idea of herself being gay for Nana, we couldn't assume that was true of Main Asuka.
But then the next arc introduces to a variant of Yu that gets dubbed the name Sexy Yu. Like with Serious Asuka, she's not a one shot appearance. She becomes a major part of the story. She's also highly gay for Asuka, Asuka, and well Asuksa in general. No, seriously she repeatedly makes her move on Asuka and doesn't care for the fact the main Yu is well so boring. In hindsight, she's basically Yu with her limiter removed. However she's still a variant of her. Thus there always a bit of doubt her. Were they just trying to have it both ways? After all they could have easily claimed "Sure this Yu is gay, but it's only because with enough fragments, it was bound to happen. Look forward to the main versions being super hetero"
Thus even with Sexy Yu seducing Asuka (which hinted at the idea that Asuka liked the concept of being won over by Yu) I was prepared to accept the idea that nothing would come of it. That's not to say that I didn't keep hoping. Especially since Sexy Yu kept being a major part of the story ever since she fully introduced herself and even before that when she was just the mysterious character that hadn't yet revealed herself beyond a few clues that should have been obvious had I paid more attention.
Still one major clue to Asuka and Yu's relationship had to do with how Serious Asuka and Sexy Yu would clash with each other. It was clear they didn't like each other much or did they? While Sexy Yu has issues with Serious Asuka, she's still an Asuka and well Sexy Yu is still Yu. Thus their relationship was a bit more complicated. Perhaps they'd have been closer if not for the issues of the multi-verser. Multi-fragment? Regardless together and separately the two of them served the purpose of being another way to view both/either Asuka and Yu. Especially during the final arc.
Because of very bad events (as per the nature of a final arc) the characters find themselves having to cope. Asuka's way of coping leads to a confrontation with Yu where they have a fight. Yu hurts Asuka with her words causing Asuka to leave. You may consider this to be a lover's spat if you want. One thing leads to another and they need to search for Asuka. The one elected to do the search is the only one qualified which is Yu. It's made clear that Yu shares bond with Asuka strong than any of the other girls.
Then the big moment happens. The very idea of losing Asuka to well "Asuka" causes Yu to let it all out. She pretty much confesses out right to Asuka,. Her emotions are driving her. All of her actions leave no room for denial.  No longer could "Yu loves Asuka" be written off as just being the trait of a variant. It was now confirmed as being part of Boring Yu. I'm sorry I mean Main Yu. The scenes from before all served the purpose of building up to this moment.
The confession between Yu and Asuka is one of my favorite confessions of 2018. It was given proper build up over the coruse of the series. Perhaps even the "doubt" helped a bit.  Said doubt allowed the confession to be a surprise for some of us. But at the same time when you look back, you can see it didn't come out of nowhere. Not that I'm implyng any series this season would do that. In conclusion Yu/Asuka is one of my favorite coupls this year.